After 261 days on hunger strike in an Israeli jail, Palestinian prisoner Ayman Al-Sharawneh was deported to Gaza on Sunday evening. At dawn the following morning, Al-Sharawneh's brother Jihad was arrested by the Israelis.
The head of the Prisoners' Forum in the occupied West Bank, Qadorah Fares, said that Al-Sharawneh agreed on his deportation to the Gaza Strip due to his very serious health condition. He looked very tired and pale when he arrived at the Eretz border crossing from where he was rushed to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
"I won the battle with the Israeli occupation," he told medical staff, "and I promise to go back to the West Bank and Jerusalem."
Al-Sharawneh's family said that he had chosen to be deported rather than serve out the remainder of his original 28-year prison sentence. He had been released by Israel as part of the exchange deal which saw Gilad Shalit released from captivity in Gaza. He was then re-arrested by Israel. His court hearing was due to be held on Monday morning but a sudden deterioration of his condition led to him being given the option of deportation or a stay in prison for decades.
Although the Hamas government in Gaza welcomed the freed prisoner, a spokesman said that the movement does not accept Israel's deportation policy. This point was supported by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
As Al-Sharawneh was resting in hospital, Israeli soldiers blew down the door of his family home in Hebron and arrested his brother Jihad. The home and its contents were damaged during the Israeli search of the property.
A spokesman for Waed Association for Prisoners' Affairs said that Jihad Al-Sharawneh's arrest illustrated how Israel functions on revenge in such matters, in complete disregard for international law.